31 July 2015

NEWS - Sakura Girl (12th single)

Limited Edition
Almost a year after their previous CD release the group finally came out with a new single. This is the last single to be on an original album for the group. The limited version had six alternate versions of the cover, one for each member of the group.

This was the first release of 2010 for NEWS, the final year the group was active with six members. Between it, the album and another single before the end of the year there was no reason to really think there would be any real changes with the group. 2011 proved that all wrong though.

Regular Edition
Release date: 31 March, 2010

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
1. Sakura Girl
2. Anata ga Tonari ni Iru Dake de
3. Loves Melodies
4. Sakura Girl (A capella version)

Regular track listing:
1. Sakura Girl
2. Anata ga Tonari ni Iru Dake de
3. FREEDOM
4. Sakura Girl (original karaoke)

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

27 July 2015

Kisumai GAME 26 May 2015 episode review

There is a return to the Kis-My-Ft2 vs magician game that they played a couple of episodes ago. I did not look forward to this at all as I really did not like the first one. Hopefully this one finds a way to be more entertaining.

This episodes gives us the first returning guest with Kikuchi Yukio. It makes me wonder if it was just filmed the same day as the first one as the setting is no different either.

The guys are up against the magician Mitama, who made his professional debut at age 17. He freaks them out at first by swallowing a long balloon, which I am sure I can guess what he has to somehow do for it to work but with how he pulls it off it is impressive. Though definitely still a bit freaky to watch.

The first round is basically the same concept from before, the magician will leave a handkerchief in the pocket of one of the members, and they will then have to guess who has it at the end. Mitama definitely has better showmanship than the previous magician as he makes a show of pretending to pocket a handkerchief on everyone. Of course everything is about slight of hand and misdirection which is per the norm for magic tricks.

The second round is the same concept but a different trick. What I like about this episode is that Mitama would show how he did the trick as the end to the members. I think the best reactions from the guys came then as they learned how the trick was done.

The final round was between Tamamori and Kikuchi for who would play the penalty game. The penalty game was not as uneasy to watch as it was not nearly drawn out and the participant not acting nearly as nervous as Senga Kento did when he had to do his the last time they had an episode like this.

Speaking of Senga, he was not included in the tricks for this. It makes me wonder that if this was to make up for the past episode where he had that punishment game that looked to genuinely freak him out. The way the set the rounds up it makes sense someone was left out but again I do wonder if that was why he was selected.

So overall not a bad episode and a step up from the first time they did one like this. I think the magician and his level of showmanship was really what made the difference as he was interesting to watch. I do not think there was really any member of the group that stood out in the episode, but it was going to be hard to do so considering the challenge.

Next episode though looks like its going to be plenty entertaining as the group will be giving archery a try and have the punishment game of eating a pizza of the toppings their arrows hit on the target.

24 July 2015

NEWS - Koi no ABO (11th single)

Limited Edition
After a tour that ended at the start of the year 2009 ended up being rather quiet for the group. In fact this single is the only 2009 CD release for NEWS and the only other group release of the year was the concert tour DVD release at the end of the year.

This is also one of the once rare releases that had a DVD to go with the limited edition of the single. But like the previous one, which came with Hoshi o Mezashite, this did not have the music video for the single. Instead it has concert footage from their most recent tour at the time NEWS WINTER PARTY DIAMOND.

The regular edition has a recording of the song Share, which was written by the group together. It was recorded at the NEWS WINTER PARTY DIAMOND at Tokyo Dome concert where they debuted the song. I would eventually get a studio recorded version with the next album released by the group.

Regular Edition
Release date: 29 April, 2009

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited CD track listing:
1. Koi no ABO
2. Labyrinth
3. Koi no ABO (original karaoke)

DVD track listing:
1. Happy Birthday
2. weeeek
3. GanGanGanbatte
4. Hadashi no Cinderella Boy
5. SUMMER TIME
6. MC

Regular track listing:
1. Koi no ABO
2. Labyrinth
3. OPEN YOUR EYES
4. Share (Live at Tokyo Dome)

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

20 July 2015

Kisumai GAME 19 May 2015 episode review

A new game is introduced where Kis-My-Ft2 has to guess a voice actor by their voice alone. Of course just guessing one of the roles they have done is enough to pass in this.

Guest is Iwai Yuuki one half of comedian duo Haraichi. It is mentioned on his name card on the screen when he is introduced that he is an anime fan but they could have easily done this without him.

The guys have to guess the voice actor with three different segments, each about three minutes long, where the voice actor has to use a different voice for each segment. The first they have to ask questions and they seem to be free to ask about anything. The second they can request sayings and the third is the same but a different voice must be used.

After each segment three of them have to guess, just two for the final segment though, and if they get it wrong they are hit with a wooden stick on the shoulder. From the expressions of the guys this started off rather hard but after Fujigaya Taisuke got a hit that looked like it hurt more than anyone expected they did not hit with as much force.




It was fun to see which voice actors the guys got excited about, mostly anyone connected to Dragon Ball Z. But they had only veteran voice actors that had some major roles that even those not overly into anime would be able to recognize them. That and also roles that the Kisumai guys would know as it looks like they are mostly familiar with the series from when they were kids like Chibi Mariko-chan and Crayon Shin-Chan. Miyata Toshiya would be their only hope for more modern fair as he has mentioned that he is still an anime fan.

I would probably give most entertaining to Fujigaya who after Yokoo Wataru announced that everyone knows who the voice actor was after a round confessed that he did not know. The timing of that was rather perfect, especially as he was the one up to make the first guess for that round.

If you are into Japanese voice actors this is a good episode to watch as they do have some of the more renowned ones. In fact a couple of them had prominent roles in Dragon Ball Z. It also helps give an idea of what anime series are the more well known to the general Japanese population as outside the guest and Miyata no one is an anime fan.

The punishment did help add to the entertainment factor a bit. Like I mentioned it seemed a bit too hard at first, even the first voice actress looked concerned whenever anyone was hit. But they did seem to lighten it up after the incident with Fujigaya so it was easier to take.

Next episode has another magician playing the same game as before, but with a different trick. Not sure if I really want to sit through another one of those but maybe they've made some changes to make it a little more enjoyable to watch.

17 July 2015

NEWS - color (3rd album)

Limited Edition
This album continues the trends begun with their second original album, Pacific. Yamashita Tomohisa and Nishikido Ryo both get solo songs on the album, MOLA and ordinary. Koyama Keiichiro and Kato Shigeaki get a duet with Morarisuto. Then there are two songs that each feature half of the group with it being the same member breakdown there was with the previous album. Tegoshi Yuya is the main vocalist for Kesenai with Ryo and Shige also on the song. Then Masuda Takahisa leads Minna ga Iru Sekai o Hitotsu ni Ai o Motto Give & Take Shimashou with Yamapi and Koyama.

Also like the previous album the difference between the two versions was a bigger booklet for the LE while the RE has a bonus track not on the LE.

The regular edition is the first cover of any of their releases to show the member colors of the group. Well most, as Koyama Keiichiro was technically brown and not orange but that did not last for too long before he took up purple which has been his color ever since.

Regular Edition

Release date: 19 November, 2008

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
1. weeeek
2. STARDUST
3. SUMMER TIME
4. SNOW EXPRESS
5. Forever
6. MOLA
7. Kesenai
8. ordinary
9. Minna ga Iru Sekai o Hitotsu ni Ai o Motto Give & Take Shimashou
10. Murarisuto
11. Taiyo no Namida
12. Smile Maker
13. Happy Birthday
14. FLY AGAIN

Regular track listing:
1. weeeek
2. STARDUST
3. SUMMER TIME
4. SNOW EXPRESS
5. Forever
6. MOLA
7. Kesenai
8. ordinary
9. Minna ga Iru Sekai o Hitotsu ni Ai o Motto Give & Take Shimashou
10. Murarisuto
11. Taiyo no Namida
12. Smile Maker
13. Happy Birthday
14. FLY AGAIN
15. Towairo no Koi

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

13 July 2015

Kisumai GAME 12 May 2015 episode review

This episode gives us the return of the hide and seek with drones game, but with some changes to it.

The special guest for the episode was Iketani Yukio, Olympic medalist and gymnast. He did not seem to give the show more than some interesting moments, but at least they were entertaining.

They look to have been set up in a model house, so there were plenty of hiding spots for them this time around. That said they were given incentives not to just stay hidden somewhere as there were envelopes hidden around the house that had challenges for them to do to earn money.

To also work to make the challenge more difficult they would go up to three drones near the end. With two floors to the house and plenty more areas to hide this made quite a bit of sense or it would have seemed too easy.

It is hard to pick the most entertaining moment or member as overall this was an entertaining episode. Though Iketani did bring some special fun with the random rolls over furniture and such to avoid being seen by the drones.

The changes they made from the original run were all great. Giving the guys a reason to move even if they found the perfect hiding spot kept from having any dull moments. Also letting us see the controllers for the drones was a nice touch, as it is much easier to be interested in a human competitor than a machine. Overall a good episode for the series and much needed to recover from the boredom from the last one.

10 July 2015

29JUN2015 CDJapan order

I open my CDJapan order that contains NEWS' latest single Chumu Chumu. And there is also an Uta no Prince-sama CD with pre-order bonuses.

NEWS - Happy Birthday (10th single)

Limited Edition
This single's title track was a tie-in for a range of bath products that were under the name Happy Bath Day (a pun because Japan loves puns) from the company KOSE, hence the title of this single Happy Birthday.

It was the final single for the year and the last one before the group's third studio album.

2008 really felt like the year for NEWS with a decent amount of releases for the group and a concert tour. Unfortunately the next year would be much the opposite as Kanjani8 began to really take off in popularity and thus Nishikido Ryo spending much more time with that group.

Regular Edition
Release date: 01 October, 2008

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
1. Happy Birthday
2. Ganganganbatte
3. GAME of LOVE
4. Happy Birthday (original karaoke)

Regular track listing:
1. Happy Birthday
2. Ganganganbatte
3. Push On!


Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

08 July 2015

Thoughts on Mr. King vs Mr. Prince

I know the formation of this group is kinda old news by now but to be honest when it was announced I just gave it a questioning look at the name and really did not think much about it. I am sure this is mainly because I just do not follow the Juniors as much as I once did so none of the members really interest me. I can understand their appeal and know most are likely some of the most popular Juniors at the moment but none have really caught my attention and kept it.

That all said for anyone out of the loop Mr. King vs Mr. Prince (Kinpuri for short) is a new Junior unit made up of two subunits with Mr. King being Hirano Sho, Nagase Ren and Takahashi Kaito then Mr. Prince being Jinguji Yuta, Iwahashi Genki and Kishi Yuta. They are getting a strong push out the gate with them being supporters for TV Asahi's Roppongi Hills Natsu Matsuri Summer Station event and are even doing the theme song for it.

Since there does not look to be a FIVB debut this year it does make one wonder if instead Johnny's is going to debut a new unit without the connection to that volleyball tournament anyway. If they are this unit seems to be the most likely as the members seem to fit that fresh image that Johnny's likes to connect to those types of units.

Of course their name is terrible. Since Sexy Zone though I have given up all hope of a Johnny's group getting a decent sounding name. And at least Kinpuri seems to be much more widespread in usage than the full name from what I have noticed.

I do like that there are a couple of Kansai Juniors in the group as they should help bring some life to it. Or at least I hope so. And I think by going for an older average age with the members Johnny's will not have to worry so much with running into many issues that they can with younger idols. All the members have had strong pushes from the agency so there is no surprise they would be considered for debut if that is to be.

And while I do want SixTONES to debut I am fine with waiting longer for that. I would prefer that group to go the KAT-TUN/Kis-My-Ft2 route and build their popularity up for a while as Juniors so they can have a strong debut with a cool image. As I think any group that debuts this year will be to take over the fresh and young image from Sexy Zone. Which would make sense as SZ has been moving away from that in the past couple of years.

So if they debut or not I do not think it will affect me much. I am always happy to see Juniors get to debut but with so many active Johnny's groups I do wonder if things are not getting a bit over-saturated with them at this point. SZ had issues with their debut not being as strong as previous FIVB groups and not to mention their current state. A.B.C-Z went a completely different route to help make sure they had a way to stand out but cannot be called popular. They seem to be making some inroads though with variety programs that can help them stick around for the long run. Kis-My-Ft2 was lucky to get paired with SMAP early on as well as be steadily pushed so they have managed to become the most popular new Johnny's group. Kinpuri's fate seems rather up in the air even if they do debut though at least this tie-in will help get their name out there and hopefully attract a decent fanbase so they can avoid a bumpy start.

I think I have rambled on enough about the topic now. It will at least be interesting to see what happens with this group in both the near and distant future.

06 July 2015

Kisumai GAME 05 May 2015 episode review

Kis-My-Ft2 is up against a magician for this episode and it is not nearly as epic as one could imagine.
The guest for this episode is Kikuchi Yukio, who is a lawyer. Not sure how that works unless he is the go to lawyer on variety shows to help explain legal issues or something.

The magician, Motti, seems to specialize in tricks that involve pick-pocketing. The challenge of the episode is to try to figure out who was a handkerchief that Motti has left in one of their pockets.

So the basic set up for each of the three rounds of this is that Motti comes in and interacts with each participant and then they have to figure out which one of them has the handkerchief. One of them gets to answer to give their guess and then the answer is revealed.

They have a penalty game though I am not sure why other than someone probably thought it would make good TV. I honestly did not like it at all as Senga Kento looked honestly freaked out doing it that it was uncomfortable for me to watch.

Not much really stood out this episode so if I have to give and spotlight to who was the most interesting to watch it has to be Senga. He had some of the best reaction faces, which is probably why they wanted him to do the penalty game.

Honestly this has to be one of the most boring episodes yet. It is not all that engaging and I get the feeling this was brainstormed up as a way to have a few episodes that they could do on a small budget to offset the costs of some of the more ambitious challenges. Thankfully these magician episodes look to be spread out a bit so we get something more interesting with the next episode.

03 July 2015

NEWS - SUMMER TIME (9th single)

Limited Edition
This was a good time for NEWS as not only did they manage to comeback strong but they had some nice commercial deals tied to the group. The Russ-K tie-in lasted some time and gave the group a few singles for it, this one included.

Being a May release it was an odd time to release a summer themed single but they got around that with the song itself being more about waiting/looking forward to the summer.

Regular Edition
Release date: 05 May, 2008

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
1. SUMMER TIME
2. EASY COME, EASY GO
3. Liar
4. SUMMER TIME (original karaoke)

Regular track listing:
1. SUMMER TIME
2. EASY COME, EASY GO
3. Baby! Be My Baby!

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

01 July 2015

The Shounen Club 13 May 2011 review

Another month and another Shounen Club episode review. I am happy to have a schedule for this again, even if it means going very slowly through them.

The episode starts off with Nakajima Yuto announcing the theme of the episode, Yuujou (Friendship), then making way for the Juniors to be introduced as they sing a medley of songs.

The medley starts off with a mix of Juniors performing WA ni Natte Odorou. Or more specifically the lead members of the older Junior groups of Kis-My-Ft2, A.B.C-Z and Mis Snow Man.

Then it is basically the rest of the prominent Juniors for the next song, with B.I.Shadow, Hip Hop Jump, Kyomoto Taiga's grouping, and Morimoto Shintaro with the smaller Juniors.

The hosts of the episode, Yuto, Arioka Daiki and Yaotome Hikaru then take over with the Juniors behind them to perform a Hey! Say! JUMP song. Though I am pretty sure the group had a better song to tie into friendship than School Kakumei by then. But that then wraps up the opening medley.

The opening talk is with the members of B.I.Shadow as they go over the theme of the episode. Matsumura Hokuto and Nakajima Kento both get to tell short stories about their friends before they need to get ready for the following performance.

BIS then perform Seishun Amigo, which is a song that seems to be a complete no brainer to have for an episode themed friendship. And it is nice to see a BIS performance that is rather even with highlighting all the members instead of the usual heavy focus on Nakaken and Kikuchi Fuma.

There is then a letter exchange segment between Yasui Kentaro and Ishikawa Takuto. Of course Yasui should be a familiar name for those currently following the Juniors but I have no idea about the status of Ishikawa. Yasui brings up the fact that they usually end up being the assistants for teh Junior Coliseum segments of SC. Ishikawa talks about how Yasui is like an older brother.

This is followed by a performance of Marui Chikara by the group of Fresh Juniors of the time. This of course means focus on Juniors like Sato Shori and Matsushima So and Takahashi Fu does get his name on the screen.

Unlike the little Jinguji Yuta who at least does a good job of grabbing some attention by making sure to look at the camera.

The medley continues with a performance by Hip Hop Jump before moving on the finish up with Sanada Yuma and Nozawa Yuki performing with a grouping of Juniors that tend to be stuck just back dancing on the show. In fact even though they do sing they do not get their names on the screen unlike Sanada and Nozawa.

The guest for this episode is Yamashita Tomihisa. He is joined by Totsuka Shota and Kawai Fumito when he is brought out to be introduced and have his talk segment with the hosts. They first bring up Yamapi having a solo concert to tie the A.B.C-Z members in to the talk then they move on to talk about friends. This of course lets Yamapi bring up his friendship with Ikuta Toma.

Yamapi then performs his solo song, Tokyo Sinofonietta, with the Junior dance unit Four U (or however you romanize it) as his back up dancers. Someone was really autotune happy with this song as you rarely hear Yamapi's voice without it. And you would think with that much autotune the performance would have more dance moves for Yamapi to do.

After that it is the Junior Nekkatsu Battle segment, which is a drawing competition with Hikaru as the judge as the other two HSJ members just host. The contestants are Hashimoto Ryosuke, Kikuchi Fuma, Matsumura Hokuto and Kyomoto Taiga. Like all drawing corners like this we get to see some real masterpieces and I would recommend hunting this down, though it is short with only the one round.

The three hosts then sit and talk among themselves about the theme and end up talking about their group and being able to communicate with each other like during concerts like through eye contact.

Finally that ends and we move onto a performance. A.B.C-Z is up and perform their song Bokura no LOVE & PEACE. It is a nice song that builds up its energy which helps get over the lull that was the previous talk segment. The dancing looks really sharp in this performance and it helps showcase the group as one that really places focus on the performance side of things.

There is then a VTR segment that features footage from HSJ's spring concert, most specifically the concert at Yokohama Arena on May 5th. There is just a lot of short clips of the performances but it does show solo perfomances, which not something you can really get much of from this group outside of concerts. You can also see a glimpse of Tamamori Yuta in one of the clips, who was probably there as a guest.

Following this Kis-My-Ft2 is up for a talk segment. Even though it would be easy for the group to cover the episode theme as there are members who are friends instead the conversation is about Tama being a mysterious type. This can be attributed to the push the agency was giving him as the group headed towards debut so he could be placed in the front three with the group's lead singers. Of course the conversation is able to go over the theme of the episode and there is some fun with Miyata pretending to be the jealous sort.

Of course with the theme we cannot get away from Kitayama and Fujigaya performing their duet, No. 1 Friend, but at least the rest of the group join them as it moves into a performance of the group song Smile.

Then it is time to wrap up the episode with the final song performance. The older Juniors with the hosts perform the song Zenbu Dakishimete. And Question? finally get some screen time with this as they start it off and the other Juniors come on stage by group to join them. Really wish we could see more of the interactions between the groups, as it was mostly just with Question? and Ebi. But still a nice way to wind things down for the end of the episode.


That wraps up the episodes for May, where we can see things more or less getting back to usual. The only real difference probably is the lack of a lot of effects for performances on the show, which makes sense as electricity conservation was still something urged at the time.

At this time though the Juniors had some strong performers that gave matching performances so it was not like it was something all that noticeable in the end.